15 Best Quotes by Franz Kafka: The Notorious Absurdist

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Writing a story with a proper plot that includes a satisfactory beginning, main body, and ending is far different from writing a story with the essence of surrealism and absurdism.

Only a few authors aced the theme of absurdism in books, and one such author is Franz Kafka.

Kafka’s profound writing is still loved and appreciated by the people, and today, I will be highlighting the famous quotes by the author. In this article, you will see the 15 best quotes by Franz Kafka, along with their brief meanings. So, stay with me to reminisce a few meaningful quotations by him.

15 Quotes by Franz Kafka and their Meanings

Have a look at the collection of poignant quotes I have listed below and enjoy the moment of remembering one of the best writers.

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka eloquently captures the transformative power of literature with this metaphor. A book, in his eyes, is not just a mere collection of words but a tool that unlocks hidden realms within our psyche. 

Like a key that opens doors within a vast castle, literature grants us access to the concealed corridors of our emotions, memories, and dreams. 

Reading is thus a journey of introspection, a voyage into the deepest recesses of our identity. Through books, we discover uncharted facets of ourselves, understand our complexities, and embrace our multifaceted nature.

“Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka, in this profound adage, highlights the primacy of moral integrity over societal conformity. He suggests that what is deemed ‘acceptable’ by society may not always align with genuine righteousness or truth. 

Instead of making our decisions by pondering what will be approved or accepted by the masses, we should first and foremost consider the ethical weight and honesty of our actions. 

Kafka’s wisdom nudges us to prioritize our inner compass over external pressures, ensuring that our choices reflect authenticity and virtue rather than mere adherence to prevailing norms.

“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka’s metaphor here is both vivid and profound. He suggests that within each individual lies a vast, frozen expanse of emotion, insight, and potential, often rendered inert by complacency or fear. 

A truly impactful book, according to him, should act as an axe, breaking through this icy barrier and allowing the deep waters of our psyche to flow freely.

Literature, in its most potent form, has the power to shatter our self-imposed confines, awaken dormant feelings, and catalyze introspection. Through this transformative process, we are led to greater self-awareness and a deeper connection to the human experience.

“In the struggle between yourself and the world, back the world.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka’s phrase here delves into the inherent tension between individual desires and the external world’s demands. He suggests a form of humility and a recognition of the vastness and complexity of the world around us. 

It’s an acknowledgment that the world, with its myriad challenges and truths, often holds lessons that can humble our individualistic perspectives. 

Rather than perpetually resisting or confronting the universe’s whims, there’s wisdom in yielding, learning, and growing from the world’s intricacies. In essence, Kafka encourages a balance of self-assertion with deep respect and understanding of the external realities we face.

“Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka touches upon the timeless essence of youth, attributing its vibrancy not to age but to perception. Youthfulness, in his eyes, is the ability to recognize and appreciate beauty in its myriad forms. 

As life progresses, cynicism can cloud this innate wonder. Yet, those who continually seek and cherish beauty, regardless of age, retain a youthful spirit. 

Kafka’s words serve as a poignant reminder that true agelessness lies not in the body but in the heart and mind’s ability to marvel at the world’s splendors, keeping the soul forever young and alive.

“I am a cage, in search of a bird.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka, with this enigmatic statement, delves into themes of purpose, longing, and fulfillment. The “cage” metaphorically represents structures in our lives,  be it routines, roles, or self-imposed limitations. 

Yet, despite its confines, the cage yearns for a bird, symbolizing life’s vigor, meaning, and freedom. Kafka might be expressing the human yearning to find purpose or passion that invigorates our structured existences. 

The juxtaposition emphasizes the paradox of our lives: while we build structures for security and stability, there’s an inherent desire to find something wild, free, and meaningful to breathe life into them.

“Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka offers a critical reflection on the cyclical nature of societal change. While revolutions often begin with noble intentions, seeking transformative shifts in power structures and ideals, they can, over time, lead to new bureaucracies, entities that become mired in their own complexities and red tape. 

The use of the word “slime” conveys a sense of decay and stagnation, underscoring the often disappointing aftermath of revolutions that fail to live up to their initial promises. 

Kafka’s observation is a reminder of the challenges of sustaining genuine change and the vigilance required to prevent ideals from becoming mere formalities.

“The meaning of life is that it stops.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

With profound simplicity, Kafka confronts the inexorable reality of mortality. Life’s impermanence, he suggests, is its very essence. This statement isn’t just an acknowledgment of life’s fleeting nature but also an invitation to find depth and significance within that transience. 

By recognizing the finite span of our existence, every moment gains heightened importance, pushing us to live with purpose, passion, and presence. 

Kafka’s insight encourages us to seek meaning not in spite of life’s ephemeral nature but because of it, cherishing each instant and forging a legacy that endures even as the sands of time slip away.

“I am free and that is why I am lost.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka delves into the paradox of freedom here. While liberty is often associated with empowerment and self-determination, it can also usher in feelings of disorientation and aimlessness. Unbounded freedom, devoid of direction, can lead one to feel adrift in a vast sea of possibilities. 

Kafka’s introspection reveals the double-edged nature of freedom: the exhilaration of uncharted paths paired with the weight of infinite choices. His words resonate with anyone who’s felt the simultaneous joy and burden of autonomy, emphasizing the importance of self-awareness and purposeful navigation in the vast landscape of life’s freedoms.

“Paths are made by walking.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka’s insight in this quote emphasizes the idea that life’s journey is crafted through action and experience rather than preordained routes. Rather than waiting for a clear path to emerge, one creates it through the act of moving forward, making choices, and facing challenges. 

The journey itself, with its trials, mistakes, and learnings, gives shape to the path. It’s a call to be proactive, to engage with life’s uncertainties, and to understand that every step, no matter how tentative, contributes to the journey’s map. 

Kafka’s wisdom underscores the value of initiative, courage, and the beauty of forging one’s unique way.

“By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka underscores the transformative power of belief and vision. He posits that before tangible realities emerge, they first exist as fervent beliefs in the minds of their creators. 

Passionate conviction acts as a crucible, molding and shaping the non-existent into reality. The inventions, art, and innovations that shape our world often sprout from the soil of unwavering faith in a yet unrealized idea. 

Kafka’s sentiment reminds us that reality is not just what we see but also what we envision and strive for, emphasizing the role of the human spirit in manifesting the world of tomorrow.

“Idleness is the beginning of all vice, the crown of all virtues.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka implores us to embrace our authentic selves with unyielding tenacity. In a world that often pressures conformity and dilution of individuality, he champions the virtue of staying true to one’s core beliefs and idiosyncrasies. 

It’s a call to resist the seduction of societal trends and external expectations that might steer us away from our genuine essence. Instead of altering our beliefs and passions to fit a mold, Kafka advocates for unapologetic authenticity. 

His words serve as a beacon, urging us to honor the unique rhythm of our souls amidst the cacophony of external influences.

“All human errors are impatience, a premature breaking off of methodical procedure, an apparent fencing-in of what is apparently at issue.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka’s phrase taps into themes of introspection, transformation, and harmony with the world. It portrays a shift in perception; where once there might have been a predatory or consumptive view of something, there’s now an understanding and tranquility. 

The statement can be seen as a journey from desire or exploitation towards appreciation and coexistence. Kafka could be alluding to a deeper spiritual or moral awakening, where one no longer ‘consumes’ or takes advantage of others but instead acknowledges and respects their inherent value, fostering a peaceful coexistence marked by understanding and empathy.

“The spirit becomes free only when it ceases to be a support.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka delves deep into the realm of personal liberation with this introspective statement. He suggests that true freedom for the spirit arises not when it is a crutch or support, leaning on external factors or validation, but when it stands independently. 

It’s a journey from dependency to self-reliance, urging us to find strength within rather than leaning on external constructs. 

For Kafka, true emancipation of the soul comes when we disentangle it from external attachments, allowing it to soar unfettered, driven by its own intrinsic values and beliefs, unburdened by external pressures or expectations.

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion.”

quotes by Franz Kafka

Kafka beautifully conveys the notion that true understanding and appreciation of life’s profound moments often transcend mere physical sight. The “heart” symbolizes our deeper emotions, intuition, and soul, while the “eyes” represent superficial observation. 

Kafka urges us to look beyond the obvious, tapping into our innate emotional and spiritual faculties to truly comprehend the world. 

It’s a reminder that many essential truths and beauties in life are imperceptible to the casual observer and only reveal themselves to those who approach the world with empathy, introspection, and genuine connection.


After finishing a book, among all the other things, quotes are one important element that stays with us as a remembrance of that particular story or character. 

I wrote this article specifically to list the best quotes by Franz Kafka. I hope you had a great time reading and understanding the profound meanings behind his words. 

Tell me your most loved quotes by the author. I will be delighted to read your perspective regarding the author’s beliefs.

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